Friday, March 20, 2009
Hello Bloggers! Anna has graciously chosen me to be part of her Feature Fridays, and I'm excited about sharing my Birth Doula business with you (What is a doula, you say? If you haven't heard of it, you're not alone. I'll explain.) But first I just want to comment on what a great community Anna has become part of. I love what she has done with her blog, and I love reading the interactions among all of her followers. Isn't it great that we as women can connect in a very personal way even if we never meet?!
Let me introduce myself. My name is Eva Casillas, and I am Anna's sister (she's all grown up now, sniff). I've been married almost 12 years and we have four children between the ages of six and ten (two boys, two girls). I got my undergrad in Family and Consumer Sciences from Liberty University in 1997. After that I worked in a Child Development Center for about five years (in between having babies :D ). That was a great way for me to use my education, both in teaching and in management, and to minimize the time spent away from my children. But when my youngest was finally in Pre-K, I was ready to leave the preschool world and I wondered what to do with my life. I thought of many options for a career, but couldn't decide on one that sounded very interesting, so I went back to school. I started master's level courses through Liberty's online degree program in Counseling, but I wasn't sure if I really wanted to be a counselor. I just knew that I wanted to help families somehow. After my second semester of counseling classes, it hit me. I wanted to work with new moms and their babies. I had a close friend who has been a doula (pronounced doo-la) for many years, but I had never really considered that option for myself. Once I started looking into the details of this unique career, I knew it was a perfect fit for me.
So what is a doula? Simply put, it is a woman who is well educated in the complex area of childbirth and trained in methods to provide emotional support and pain management (for those brave souls who choose to go without an epidural). She is not a medical professional or midwife. For those of you who have gone through pregnancy, you might think of it as having your childbirth instructor in the delivery room with you. She has all the knowledge that you want to remember, but you'll most likely forget, during the stress of childbirth.
Having a baby is an event that women tend to remember (in detail) for the rest of their lives. Studies have shown that a woman's self-esteem is strongly influenced by her birth experience. Women who had a positive experience and came away feeling proud of themselves, had an increase in self esteem. Many felt that since they could make it through labor, then they could handle anything else life throws at them. But women who felt as if they had failed somehow during the delivery, had a sense of lower self-esteem even twenty years later. This sense of failure seems to stem from negative comments from either family members or hospital staff or it may come from a lack of support altogether. A doula is well aware of all the emotional aspects of labor and delivery, and her only job is to focus on you and make sure you are nurtured and cared for.
Since I finished my training last June, I have attended three births. The first was an induction for a young mom at 41 weeks gestation (this was her second baby) which went quickly (about four hours). The mom got an epidural, but it didn't completely work. The hospital staff ended up giving her a double dose of medication on accident. So when the baby was born, he was basically drugged. But after a little bit of special attention from the neo-natal nurses, he was fine.
My second client was a woman who was attempting a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). She had a long early labor, so it was difficult to know when to go to the hospital. She was sent home twice because her contractions were not regular or strong enough. Then she went to her 39 week check-up and the doctor noticed some bleeding. He admitted her to the hospital to find out what was happening. Apparently, she had a rare condition in which her placenta was detaching before the baby was born. This mom was given the choice to continue to labor on her own and see if she could progress naturally (as long as the bleeding did not worsen), or to have a c-section. She chose to labor naturally for two hours and then re-assess the situation. After that time, she still had not dilated past one centimeter, so she agreed to a c-section. The baby boy was beautiful, and mom was happy with her own efforts.
My third client just delivered this past Sunday. She is a 42 year old mom with a unique story. She had seven children in her first marriage when she was younger. Her kids are now between the ages of 25 and 16. But about ten years ago she remarried and they decided to have a baby together. This time around, it was not so easy to get pregnant. She had three miscarriages before she was able to carry a baby to term. In December of 07 she delivered a baby girl, but at 4 months the baby died of SIDS. This poor mom and dad were heart broken, and they struggled with whether or not to try again. They decided to pray and leave it up to God. Apparently God had mercy on them, and she got pregnant again quickly and was able to carry the baby to term. Sunday she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Laila.
As you can see, each labor and delivery is so different. And each family has their own unique situation to deal with. My desire is to be like a short-term counselor to help each family through this major life-change. It takes a lot of patience and the ability to develop an intimate relationship with a complete stranger in a short amount of time. It is challenging, but so rewarding. In the end I get to witness one of life's greatest miracles.
For more information about my business and the profession of Birth Doula, please visit my website at www.DoulaSaint.com. Thanks for reading my story.
Well... if you didn't know -- You know now! Feel free to call me Anna!! :)